* * * ½
(Sad tale of rodeo rider)
“Mothers, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” the country song warned.
This sad and sometimes downright depressing tale of a seriously injured rodeo cowboy confirms that adage.
Brady Jandreau, an actual rodeo star who was actually injured while riding a bucking bronco, plays Brady, giving a memorable performance. His real-life father and sister play themselves.
Brady suffers a serious head injury and is ordered by his doctor to avoid any work involving horses or rodeo. His goal is to get better quickly and get back in the saddle.
Brady receives little sympathy from his rodeo buddies, who treat him like they treat each other. His father is downright mean to him. His “special” sister is his closest friend and companion.
We follow Brady as he keeps pushing himself, turning to what he does best, training horses, while he struggles with a hand that won’t cooperate due to the brain injury. Brady finds solace in helping a fellow rider who has far more serious injuries and can’t walk or talk.
“The Rider” may bring tears to your eyes as Brady realizes his dreams may not come true, and his father tells him to “let it go” and “move on” and “play the hand you were dealt.” “The Rider” is one of the more realistic movies with no fairy tale ending that we’ve ever seen. The acting, from mostly non-actors, is as real as it gets.
The lessons are tough ones. Life isn’t always easy and your dreams may not come true. It is tough for Brady, and the audience, to accept this. In spite of the depressing situations, the movie is beautifully acted and directed, and the scenery is spectacular.
Rated R for some cowboy language. At the Avon.